Inventiveness was certainly at the forefront in this year's CONTRIK-69-hit Annual Mappowder Mirror Imaginative Foods Festival. Held virtually for the first time since 1918 when, ironically, cameras were first allowed into the Spanish Flu-ravaged event, this year's awards featured the usual mix of "off-the-wall" entries, several of which were commended by the judges. However, in what may prove to be a change in direction for food designers, many of this year's entries seem to have been infected by a quirkiness never before seen at a serious gathering of dedicated foodies.
"At a time when spirits are low, when several of our usual exhibitors are under "voluntary" RDC-policed self-isolating house arrest and access to materials is limited, I think the Festival has taken on a whole new level of significance", says organiser Oftha Worle. "You just have to admire the way in which entrants have scoured their cupboards - and in some cases their compost heaps and refuse bins - to find the wherewithal to make an entry... and, as Bishop Thomas of St Asses Cathedral famously said to actress Greta Garbage, "making an entry is really all that matters"." The Festival which was re-founded in 1972 after a hiatus caused by post-war rationing [which in parts of Dorset still applied to tree-spanish as late at 1969] was first sponsored by The Mappowder Mirror in 2016.
Food writer and regular DBC Food Magazine, Technology and Social Wokeness columnist Vee Ganne believes that the current climate may be responsible for a whole sea-change in culinary thinking. "Cometh the time cometh the man, woman or ze/it", she says, "and it may be that what we are witnessing is a revolution of sorts. The loss of taste, smell and interest in food which is a well known bi-product of the virus could mean that from now onwards we will be much more interested in how food looks than how it tastes or smells". Asked if this was a development anticipated by Festival re-founder Professor Brian Thrupiece when he first started working with fluff and was only later persuaded to flavour it, the University of Afpuddle-educated expert was unsure. "Who is Professor Brian Thrupiece", she asked.
Meanwhile, judges of this year's contest say that they are delighted at the touch of whimsy evident in many of the exhibition's entries and pleased too that inanimate objects have featured for the first time. "When fluidity is becoming key to our understanding of everything - from responses to CONTRIK-69 restrictions all the way through to the gender identity of topless vicars, it's good - and perhaps only natural - that one of the most basic ingredients in our lives - food - will reflect this". For perhaps the first time in 40 years we are "on trend", she added. "Fancy that!"